Poll body names Lim acting chief
THE Commission on Elections en banc named Commissioner Christian Robert Lim as acting chairman of the poll agency after President Rodrigo Duterte accepted Comelec chairman Andres Bautista’s resignation.
Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said the Comelec en banc appointed Lim as officer-in-charge, the most senior commissioner, who was also appointed in the same position when former Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes retired.
In a related development, the House of Representatives’ committee on justice will no longer submit any impeachment document to the Senate for trial against Bautista.
The panel chairman, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, said the impeachment proceedings against Bautista was “moot and academic” after President Duterte accepted Bautista’s resignation that was “effective immediately.”
“The conduct of impeachment proceedings was mooted by the acceptance of the resignation,” Umali said at the sidelines of the House justice panel’s meeting Tuesday.
The House justice committee held the meeting supposedly to discuss the Articles of Impeachment against Bautista for a full-blown trial at the Senate.
But since the impeachment document was irrelevant already, Umali said “this meeting of the minds rendered this matter finished.”
He said the committee already received Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea as well as the counsel of Bautista informing its members that President Duterte accepted the resignation of the poll chief.
“I think this matter is all very clear. There was an offer, there was an acceptance, so there is now a meeting of the minds,” Umali said.
Bautista earlier announced he would resign by end of the year. His term was supposed to expire on Feb. 2, 2022.
Umali said his committee would then prepare a committee report summarizing all the turn of events on the Bautista impeachment case.
The committee report will be submitted to the plenary for adoption when Congress resumes session on Nov. 20.
Congress goes on more than a month-long Halloween break which began last Oct. 13.
Bautista’s announcement led to the decision of the Lower House to impeach Bautista by a 137-75, reversing the decision of justice committee not to unseat him for the complaint filed against him was “defective.”
Bautista’s estranged wife, Patricia, earlier accused the Comelec chief of corruption while in government service, claiming that Bautista had several undeclared properties in his 2016 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.
The complaint was embodied in the impeachment case filed against the poll chief by lawyers Ferdinand Topacio and Jacinto Paras, accusing Bautista of betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution over allegations of ill-gotten wealth.
The complainants also questioned Bautista’s failure to properly declare his SALN and reported receipt of referral fees from the Divina Law firm; as well as failure to prevent the data breach or hacking of the Comelec website. But he resigned effective Dec. 31, 2017.
In the Senate, two senators have expressed contradictory views on Bautista’s case.
Senator Francis Escudero believes the House of Representatives should be the one to decide on the issue since the articles of impeachment was “not yet with the Senate.”
He said Congress could still act on the impeachment complaint against Bautista to impose upon him the additional penalty of perpetual disqualification.
“That is my view given the additional penalty of perpetual disqualification aside from dismissal,” Escudero said.
However, he also said the Supreme Court in the 2001 case of Estrada vs Desierto, ruled that, citing the ConCom debates, resignation or removal from office renders the impeachment proceedings moot without prejudice to the filing of administrative, civil and criminal cases vs him.
But Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said there should be no need for the Senate to proceed with the impeachment trial against Bautista because there would be “no one to impeach anymore.”
Earlier, Bautista said the letter indicating that President Duterte had accepted his resignation effective immediately came from Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
The House of Representatives impeached Bautista last Oct. 11 just hours after he announced that he was stepping down on Dec. 31.
Jimenez said Lim was a man who had a wealth of experience in managing elections and also the seniority to carry the day.
Lim was appointed Comelec commissioner by then President Benigno Aquino III in April 2011, and was set to retire by February 2018.
Jimenez said they would wait for and respect the new appointee of President Duterte to head the agency, saying they prefer an insider to lead the Comelec.